Saturday, September 05, 2015

Movie Review: "War Room"

TITLE: WAR ROOM: Prayer is a Powerful Weapon
DIRECTOR: Kendrick Brothers

The movie "Flywheel" is about a man submitting to the Lordship of Christ for his career and his faith. "Fireproof" is how we can submit our marriages to God and allow Him to save our relationships. "Courageous" is a call to fathers to step up in their responsibilities to their wives and children. In this fifth installment of movies from the Kendrick brothers, we have a movie that combines the best themes from Flywheel, Fireproof, and Courageous, into one film, plus prayer: "War Room." If there is one phrase to describe this movie, it is a call to be more on our knees and less on our self-efforts. It is a call to pray, to recognize that behind every argument, every dispute, every quarrel, every relationship problem is an enemy that is lurking somewhere, wanting to deceive, dis-empower, distract, and destroy us. For a community, it is a clarion call to all believers to take up one another's arms, fall down on our knees and pray. For the individual it is a personal invitation to create our favourite rooms in our houses: the prayer closet.

The movie began with a flash back on a military room where officers and military strategists were looking at a map and how to allocate resources to fight a war. The scene then moves to the key player in the movie, a Miss Clara (played by Karen Abercrombie), a black woman who had lost her husband many years ago. She had fought her own husband with tempers and unhappy relationships. Over time, she learned that the true enemy was not her husband. She was called to fight for her marriage instead of fighting her spouse. Since her husband had died, she took it as her personal call from God to disciple another person to be a person of prayer. In the movie, that person was Elizabeth Jordan (played by Priscilla Shirer), a real estate agent who happened to meet Miss Clara when she was trying to help sell Clara's house. Slowly, room by room, Miss Clara showed what the house meant to her, photos of her husband, and her three favourite rooms. There were teaching moments weaved into the film. Simple coffee was used as an object lesson to teach faith as hot, not lukewarm. In fighting, we are reminded that in any marriage, the real enemy of marriage is not husbands and wives fighting each other. The real enemy is the one causing all the fights in the first place. We need to first fall on our knees to ask God for help and to fight for us, and second, to get out of the way to let God do the real fight.

Slowly but surely, we see powerful signs of deliverance. The deliverance from dishonesty where Tony (played by TC Stallings) confessed before his wife about him stealing samples from his company. In faith, he decided to face the music and to be prepared to accept whatever punishment to be meted out. He may even go to jail! There is the deliverance from selfishness, and we see how the Elizabeth's gentle care convicted Tony. Tony in turn was delivered from giving in to temptations. It all happened at the prayer closet.

There is a powerful lesson on grace, where Tony Jordan's top boss, Coleman Young (played by Alex Kendrick) not only forgave Tony's theft and dishonesty, but extended absolute grace after two days of deliberation. In turn, Tony extended a helping hand to Tom, another former boss who was bent on prosecuting him to the full. There was humour in it all, as Tony grabbed a car wrench, and instead of beating up Tom, carried on helping Tom fix the car tire. Side themes include parent-child relationships and how faith can be cultivated through examples. After watching her mother writing up prayers and sticking it on the walls of the prayer closet, little Danielle (played by Alena Pitts) followed suit with her own prayers.

The star theme of the entire movie is most definitely prayer. It is not prayer that changes God, but prayer that delights God so much that God would answer us in the most powerful and heart-moving way. Seeing the marriage of Elizabeth and Tony restored leads to the strong reconciliation of parent-daughter relationship. Prayer is also discipleship. Miss Clara prayed to God to show her who to teach prayer. God answered with Elizabeth Jordan. Prayer is about fighting the real enemy. One of the most moving parts of the movie was the part where Elizabeth gave up on her self-will and flung herself totally at the feet of God. When she rose up, she was a different person. Instead of fighting a losing battle with her own strength, she learned what it meant to start from the position of Christ's victory. it was a powerful scene where Elizabeth took control of the house in the Name of God, and exorcised the devil both inside and outside of the house. Many members in the audience applauded.

If a movie touched hearts, there would be tears. Lots of it. I found myself tearing at several scenes. There were tears of joy and hope. Tears of desiring after God. Tears of thanksgiving. In some reviews, I have even heard of leaders from different churches coming together to pray after the movie!

This film costs about US$3 million to make but has since raked in over US$12 million. Of all the movies so far by the Kendrick brothers, I would rank this the best of them all for three reasons. First, it is simple and moving. There are no complicated twists and turns like the typical Hollywood fanfare. It takes a simple idea of prayer and turns it into such an effective teaching tool about prayer. Sometimes, it reminds me that things of faith are simpler than I have thought. Do we need to read multiple books on prayer in order to know about prayer? Maybe. What the movie shows us is that prayer is more about praying itself. Like the way the movie is fast becoming a box office success, the most beautiful things in life are actually the simple things of life. A movie may not be exciting or sensational, but if it moves the heart, it connects.

Second, it gives us really practical ways on how to pray. The use of the prayer closet is a powerful way to show us that. The way Elizabeth removes her many shoes, clothes, and cluttered room is a case in point. The reason we find it hard to pray is because we are distracted by many things, which is also a metaphor for the many cares and worries that we carry in our lives. I appreciate the scene where a prospective buyer, a minister himself was able to sense Miss Clara's prayer closet as a room that was "baked in prayer." I think churches and Christians must learn to put prayer back into our personal closets instead of things.

Third, the film reminds us that many battles in this world are more spiritual than anything. There are no dramatic scenes of high speed car chases like Courageous, but the battle is very much in the hearts. I think this is by far the most difficult battle of all. The real enemy is out there. In fact, for some families, he is already residing in there. Only through prayer and fasting can we learn to rely on God's strength to fight for us. Our key role is to pray, pray, and pray. This brings me to the best part of the movie: The final prayer by Miss Clara. If I can watch any one scene or listen to any one segment, over and over again, it would be that final prayer. I think it is one of the best prayers I have ever heard. Full of conviction. Filled with passion. Filled with complete belief. For that last scene alone, if the Christian film industry has an oscar for best actress, I would gladly vote for the voice of the one saying that prayer: Karen Abercrombie

Great movie. I strongly recommend this movie for Christians and Churches to watch. It's worth it. It may even be the beginning of revival! This is perhaps the best movie so far to come from the Kendrick brothers. Go with your Church groups or organize a movie event for your Church.

This movie launches in Canada on September 18th. Check out the cinema links here.




1) Official Trailer (link)

2)War Room - The Heart of the Movie (link)

3) Movie Resources (Canada)

This movie preview was provided to me courtesy of Tricord Media. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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